Alem (G): St. Hubertus (A. van Veggel, 1872-1874)
Until 1958 Alem
belonged to the province of Noord-Brabant, but already in the 1930ís
the creation of a shortcut in the River Maas had left it on the North
side of the river, cut off from the rest of the province. In the Middle
Ages the village had a collegiate church which also served the parish.
This church, which came in protestant hands in 1648, was destroyed by a
flood in 1716 or 1717. It was replaced by a small protestant church
while the catholics used a barn church. In 1757 permission was given
for a new church, which probably still looked very much like a barn.
In 1871 a new priest arrived in Alem, who soon decided to replace the
old church. A new church was designed by A. van Veggel. This architect
was born in Alem and probably still had some connections in the
village. By that time, his career was practically over; his previous
church had been built in the late 1850ís and from the 1860ís no works
at all are known. Since he died in 1876, the church of Alem was
probably his very last.
Compared to other churches from this period, the St. Hubertus is in an
out-dated early Neo-Gothic style, complete with plaster vaults. But
while its architecture still shows little evidence of knowledge of true
Gothic construction, the church is largely devoid of the decorative
shapes that were so typical of early Neo-Gothic.
It has a one-aisled nave that ends in a narrow transept which itself is
followed by a narrower polygonal choir. Remarkably, the apse has large
pointed niches, no windows.
The church survided the Second World War, unlike much of the village
and many other churches in the region, although it was badly damaged. A
German attempt to blow up the tower was prevented just in time by
British troops. However, in 1962 the upper part of the tower was
demolished because of a supposed danger that it would come down. The
resulting gap in the facade was filled and an open wooden steeple was
put on the roof. In 1997-1998 this wooden tower, which had started to
rot, was removed and the original tower was reconstructed.